Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Pope's meeting with the Brazilian leader-- who had formally greeted him Wednesday afternoon when the papal plane touched down in Brazil-- took place in the Palacio dos Bandeirantes, the governor's resident in Sao Paulo.
It was mainly a private meeting and no official declaration will be made by the President's office on the meeting. At the end of the meeting at around 11:45 a.m. (local time), Pope Benedict and the President, the latter accompanied by his wife, Marisa Leticia, stood for 15 minutes in front of the cameras of the international press who were present there.
President Lula presented his gifts to the Pope, a collection of three books, the complete works of Brazilian painter Cândido Portinari. Likewise, the first Lady gave the Holy Father a portrait of the Pontiff, made by Brazilian painter Roberto Camasmie. In return, the Pope presented to both of them a Pontifical medal.
After lunch, Pope Benedict will meet with leaders of the Brazilian hierarchy, the Pontiff will meet Thursday afternoon with representatives of other Christian denominations active in Brazil.
Later in the afternoon the Pope will address a large audience of young people gathered in a Sao Paulo's Paulo Machado de Carvalho stadium.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 10, 2007 (CNA) -
Pope Benedict XVI arrived 25 minutes early to a rainy Sao Paulo to open his visit to Brazil with a call to Christians to defend the life of the unborn and promote solidarity towards the poorest.
The Pontiff reaffirmed the Christian values of Latin America "which will never be
eradicated." "I am certain that at Aparecida, during the bishops' general
conference, this identity will be reinforced through the promotion of respect
for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral
requirement of human nature," he added.
The Holy Father was received at the International airport of Guarulhos by President Luiz Ignacio “Lula” da Silva, who welcomed the Pope at a ceremony that had to be moved to an interior location because of the light but persistent rain.
In his response to Lula’s greetings words, Pope Benedict said that “Brazil has a very special place in the Pope’s heart, not only because it was born Christian and has today the largest number of Catholics, but above all because it is a nation endowed with a rich potential ans an ecclesial presence that gives joy and hope to the whole Church.”
The Pope recaled that he has come “to preside the opening sessions of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean at Aparecida,” Brazil’s national Marian shrine.
“This country –he continued-, in the providence and goodness of the Creator, will become the cradle of the ecclesial proposal that, with God’s help, will give renewed vigour and missionary impetus to this Continent.”
Benedict XVI recalled that “in this geographical area, Catholics are in the majority. This means that they must make a particular contribution to the common good of the nation. The word ‘solidarity’ will acquire its full meaning when the living forces of society, each in its own sphere, commit themselves seriously to building a future of peace and hope for all.”
Regarding the Fifth general Conference of Latin American Bishops, that will start in the Marian Shrine of Aparecida on May 13 and will last until the May 31st , Pope Benedict said that “the decision to undertake an essentially missionary Conference reflects clearly the concern of the Bishops, as it does mine, to seek suitable ways by which in Jesus Christ ‘our peoples may have life,’ as the theme of the Conference reminds us.”
“I am well aware that the soul of this people, as of all Latin America, safeguards values that are radicaly Christian, which will never be eradicated. I am certain that at Aparecida, during the Bishops’ General Conference, this identity will be reinforced through the promotion of respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature. It will also make the promotion of the human reason the axis of solidarity, especially towards the poor and abandoned,” the Pope added.
“The Church –the Pope continued- seeks to stress the moral values present in each situation and to form the conscience of the citizens so that they may make informed and free decisions. She will not fail to insist on the need to take action to ensure that the family, the basic cell of society, is stenghtened, and likewise young people, whose formation is a decisive factor for the future of any nation.”
“Last but not least, she will defend and promote the values present at every level of society, especially among indigenous people,” he concluded.
After the opening ceremony, Pope Benedict rode the “Popemovile” through the crowded streets of Sao Paulo, Bazil’s largest city, to the Monastery of St. Benedict, in the city centre, where he will reside until he travels to Aparecida on Satuday.
Madrid, Spain, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - Jose Lopez Guzman, professor of the Department of Biomedical Humanities at the University of Navarre in Spain, said this week pharmacists can cite “scientific reasons” for “not dispensing the morning-after pill,” in keeping with Spanish law and with the Pharmaceutical and Deontology Code of Ethics.
During his speech at the 5th Symposium of the Spanish Association of Catholic Pharmacists, Lopez Guzman said pharmacists could appeal to “reasons of science,” which is the possibility of “questioning the appropriateness of certain treatments, based on their competence and technical qualifications, without having to appeal to conscientious objection.”
All pharmacists must have “freedom of conscience and responsibility for his actions; if these two elements are not recognized, the pharmacist could be considered a technician, but not a professional,” he said.
Lopez Guzman noted that the morning-after pill in most cases acts as an abortifacient, as it prevents implantation of a fertilized ovum.
Regarding the use of the pill by girls under the age of 16, he warned that there are no studies that show that it is safe, as the data that is available “is very limited.” The pill’s most dangerous effects require serious medical treatment, and women who take it are at greater risk for liver and pancreatic cancer and are subject to nausea and vomiting.
London, England, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - The UK Secretary of State for Health has expressed support for a new range of resources created to support Catholic patients and healthcare staff.
A series of practical publications and a new website (www.catholicsinhealthcare.org.uk <http://www.catholicsinhealthcare.org.uk>), under the banner: Caring for the Catholic Patient, offer guidelines for health workers and NHS managers and trusts.
The materials were created by Catholics in Healthcare. The volunteer group, which helps witness to the Church's teaching that Catholics in healthcare are an important part of Christ's healing mission, is backed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England.
"The Church has a hugely important role in healthcare," said Bishop Tom Williams, Chair of the Catholics in Healthcare Reference Group said. "We are trying to show that Catholics have a natural affinity with healthcare, and make a strong and supportive contribution as we continue to work in collaboration with the healthcare system," continued the auxiliary bishop of Liverpool.
"This initiative is also about galvanizing Catholics who work in healthcare, promoting our vision of care for the whole person and sharing in Christ's healing ministry," he said.
Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, said she read the Catholic publications with interest. She said they clarified for her the role of hospital chaplaincy in providing spiritual care for both patients and staff.
"I am pleased that your work supports and fits with the ethos that the NHS provides a service that is responsive, personal to all and one that puts patients' needs at its centre," she told the Catholic group.
Over the next year there will be a series of regional events to support health workers and to distribute the publications across the country, along with other seminars and events. A major healthcare conference will be held in 2008.
Orlando, Fla., May 10, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando is urging Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill before the August recess.
In a message released May 1, the bishop urged lawmakers to pass the Security through Regularized Immigration and Vibrant Economy Act of 2007, known as STRIVE. The bipartisan bill (H.R. 1645) was introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
His message, published in the Sentinel, said the STRIVE is on the whole encouraging and moves the immigration debate in the right direction
The bill "comports well with the principles needed for a just and humane immigration-reform bill," the bishop wrote. It promotes family reunification and has a realistic plan for bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, the bishop noted.
He then criticized the Bush administration's most recent proposal for immigration reforms, calling them "deeply disconcerting." Bush’s proposal would make cuts to family-based immigration as well as impose fines and long wait-times for legalization.
Undocumented persons could apply for what would be a new "Z" visa. However, the "Z" visa could cost a family of five about $64,000 to eventually gain legal status. "Such high costs would discourage immigrants from applying and would replace the now-broken policy with one that is unworkable and impractical," the bishop said.
Furthermore, Bush’s proposal would eliminate or limit four categories of family preference for family reunification - adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens and some children of permanent residents. This would be a major departure from U.S. immigration policy, which has always favored the reunification of families, the bishop noted.
Limiting categories for family reunification would exacerbate illegal entry, said the bishop, "as people desperate to be reunited with loved ones would still cross borders without proper papers."
There are currently about 11 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the United States.
Konigstein, Germany, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - President Robert Mugabe has warned the Catholic bishops of Zimbabwe that they have embarked upon "a dangerous course," reported Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) after having spoken with a priest in Zimbabwe. The priest’s identity remains anonymous.
Mugabe’s warning came after the bishops issued a pastoral letter in which they lay the blame for the political and economic situation of the country on him.
According to the priest, official statistics indicate that three million people fled the country. Unofficially, he said, the figure is five million. People are leaving for Botswana, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
"There is no open resistance against the regime; the people are too afraid for that," the priest said.
The Catholic Church is trying to help with the elderly and the sick, who have been especially hard-hit by the circumstances. However, the Church urgently needs help from abroad, the priest said.
Zimbabweans trust the Catholic Church, and the churches are full, he stated. On Fridays there are regular prayers and fasting campaigns for the country.
However, the state is accusing the Church of being responsible for the suffering in Zimbabwe. Some foreign priests and religious have been refused renewal of their residence and work permits. The state is drastically restricting the aid campaigns of the Catholic Church. Economic sanctions are hitting the poorest people very hard.
"Inflation has now reached between 2,200 percent and 3,000 percent, while unemployment stands at around 80 percent. Five months ago, I paid 11,000 Zimbabwe dollars for a chicken; a month ago they cost 50,000 and now they cost more than 100,000. People are dying of malnourishment," the priest told ACN.
One of the biggest problems is the state-controlled news media, the priest added.
"The Catholic Church can support us if she can provide us with accurate information about the situation in the country," the priest said. "The people need food and medicine in order to survive; otherwise more and more people will die.
"The Church continues to help as well as she can. But now she must tell people in her own country and in the world about the true extent of the crisis," he reportedly said.
Boston, Mass., May 10, 2007 (CNA) - Pro-abortion Congressman Edward J. Markey is expected to speak at Boston College Law School’s 2007 commencement ceremony.
College Law Dean John H. Garvey lauded Markey as "one of the most distinguished graduates of Boston College Law School, whose career of public service reflects the very best values and traditions of the school."
In 2006, Markey was one of 55 Catholic Democrats who signed a declaration that said the signatories agreed with the Church on the value of human life. But rather than opposing abortion, the group advocated for "reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion."
In addition to Boston College Law, 12 other Catholic colleges featured pro-abortion speakers and honorees during commencement ceremonies this spring, reported LifeSiteNews.com. That number dropped considerably since 2006, when 24 Catholic US institutions invited speakers who endorsed positions opposed to Church teaching.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ June 2004 document, titled "Catholics in Political Life", states that Catholic institutions "should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
Quito, Ecuador, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - In preparation for the upcoming election of a Constitutional Assembly that will decide on reforms of Ecuador’s constitution, the Archdiocese of Quito called on Catholics to participate in politics, but he reminded them that they should do so "as citizens" and not in the name of the Church.
"The laity who belong to movements or apostolic groups do well to participate in politics, that is their right, but they should do so as citizens and not in the name of their movements," the archdiocese said in a statement.
"The Church and the political community are of different natures because of their configuration and end," the statement affirmed. For this reason no party can lay claim to "the title ‘Catholic’," or that it is "approved or supported by the hierarchy or the clergy." Catholics, the statement went on, "are free to vote in accord with their consciences," as long as the candidates in question "do not oppose the doctrine of Jesus" and natural law.
The archdiocese reminded priests to refrain in every way from endorsing a particular political party, as such an act "endangers the fraternal communion" of Christians and is not in keeping with the Church’s social teachings.
The statement emphasized that the Constitutional Assembly should strengthen authentic democracy and "design a political and economic system" that will bring about good. It should also address issues that are "particularly sensitive for Catholics," including the defense of human life and the family, religious freedom and the right of parents to educate their children according to the own convictions.
Burlington, Vt., May 10, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington, Vermont, has stepped up to defend the diocese's director of safe environment programs after an advocacy group called for his dismissal.
Former Burlington Police Chief Kevin Scully has been the diocesan employee responsible for training church workers in the prevention of child sexual abuse.
In a letter to David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Bishop Matano said Scully has accomplished a lot in his 18 months with the diocese. Clohessy had criticized the diocese for failing to train all of its workers, including volunteers.
A recent audit found that Vermont and the Cincinnati diocese were the only two in the country that did not to meet all the standards set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to prevent sexual abuse by priests.
The bishop told Clohessy he was concerned that the diocese had not completed its training as well, but he disagreed with Clohessy's conclusions, which "seem to lack basic information."
Madrid, Spain, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - The director of Fundacion Vida in Spain, Manuel Cruz, said this week the campaign by the Ministry of Health to promote the use of condoms among young people is "irresponsible and ineffective," as they do not reduce teen pregnancy but rather "increase high-risk behavior exponentially."
"It is undeniable that condoms frequently break, they increase high-risk behavior exponentially, they lead to more pregnancies and infections year after year, they don’t prevent sexually transmitted diseases one hundred percent, and they don’t completely prevent unwanted pregnancies," Cruz said.
Likewise, Cruz criticized the Ministry of Health for its inability to reduce the number of abortions in Spain. He said the government agency is only interested in promoting condemns, "which fosters a spiral of hedonism that ends in more promiscuity, and therefore, in more abortions and in an increased spread of sexually transmitted diseases."
"The Ministry of Health and its promotion of the condom in a new campaign offers no solutions for unwanted pregnancies and the spread of HIV/AIDS, and therefore is part of the problem," he added.
According to Fundacion Vida, a recent study by the magazine "Sexually Transmitted Infections" showed that 31.3 percent of men surveyed said condoms have failed them during sexual relations.
The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also showed that the condom is not effective in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Washington D.C., May 10, 2007 (CNA) -
Christians are criticizing a decision by Public Broadcasting Service stations to broadcast a three-part television documentary series on atheism, calling it "an evangelistic piece."
"A Brief History of Disbelief" is by British producer Jonathan Miller. It was first broadcast on the BBC in 2005.
During the first hour-long episode, Miller visits the site in New York City where the Twin Towers once stood.
"The spectacle of September 11 is a forceful reminder of the potentially destructive power of the three great monotheistic religions [Christianity, Judaism and Islam] that have dominated the world one way or another for nearly 2,000 years," Miller states.
According to a report by Cybercast News Service, Miller interviews several leading atheists and examines theories regarding the psychology of religious belief. The second episode discusses the re-emergence of atheism in the 15th and 16th centuries and "the perils of challenging religious faith." The third segment looks at the impact of influential thinkers, such as Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud, on the way religion is understood today.
Janice Crouse, director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute for Concerned Women for America, told Cybercast News Service that "airing the program gives credibility and cohesiveness to individuals who seek to undermine the beliefs and values on which democracy and the American dream are founded."
"One has to wonder why it is so important to them for everyone to understand their 'disbelief,'" she said. "The program is not a dispassionate, positive voice as they claim. Instead, it is clearly demagogic and propagandistic."
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, told Cybercast News Service that blaming the horrors of 9/11 on "faith in God in general is absurd." "They have to be attributed to the particular ideology that drove the terrorists, which is a radical form of Islam."
Sprigg said he first thought the documentary would offer an objective history of atheism. "But when I actually watched it, I realized that it's really an evangelistic piece for atheism," he stated.
Sprigg said PBS’ decision to air the documentary actually reveals the network’s bias against Christianity and traditional faith.
"If they really want to be objective, they need to have a three-part series documenting the evidence in favor of Christianity," he added. "If they present propaganda for Islam, if they present propaganda for atheism, I think it's only fair they present propaganda for Christianity, too."
He underlined that the two most horrific regimes of the 20th century were the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, both atheistic regimes.
The documentary premiered on May 4. It will premier on public TV stations in other markets over the following weeks.
Washington D.C., May 10, 2007 (CNA) - Nearly 500 men from Catholic dioceses across the country will be ordained for the priesthood this spring. This year’s cohort is representative of the Church in the United States, which is filled with well-educated professionals, newcomers to the nation and souls touched by war.
At least seven ordinands have a military background. Others immigrated to the United States, leaving situations of poverty and strife in their countries of origin. About one-third of the class is foreign-born, coming from countries as diverse as Poland, Vietnam and the Philippines.
About six percent of the Class of 2007 are converts to Catholicism. Douglas Freer, for example, who will be ordained for the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, was an Episcopal priest for 12 years.
The men being ordained have a broad range of educational backgrounds. Many are educators. One was a professional pilot for 28 years, another worked in finance and yet another in law enforcement. Other ordinands include former physicians, lawyers, psychologists, architects, and the vice-president of an ad agency.
Ages vary, too. Among the older candidates for ordination are a 60-year-old and a 53-year-old in the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee.
Some men were in religious orders as brothers or friars. They received dispensation from their orders to be ordained diocesan priests. Others are widowers.
The number of ordinations varies from diocese to diocese as well. Some dioceses, such as Stockton, California, are ordaining their largest group in years. Spokane Diocese has seen an increase in the diocesan priesthood over the last three years. From 2004 to 2007, the number of active priests in the diocese has increased by 20 percent. The boost comes as the diocese deals with bankruptcy brought on by the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
Lima, Peru, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - Peru’s Vice Minister of Health, Jose Calderon, told a congressional committee this week that his office would propose a bill that would legalize "therapeutic abortion" in the country.
The Congressional News Service said the Ministry of Health was expected to propose a plan to "effectively manage therapeutic abortion with express measures to avoid the high indices of abortions and unwanted pregnancies in the country."
One of the measures in the proposal would allow teens to have access to contraceptives without the consent of their parents. Officials claimed this would be "an effective way to avoid abortions and unwanted pregnancies."
Janet Ramos of the Legal Committee of the Latin American Alliance for the Family warned Catholics, "We must be attentive and not fall prey to the manipulation of information by the Vice minister of Health. In Peru, therapeutic abortion, although it is not punishable by law, continues to be a crime. In no way is it a right."
Ramos said the vice minister was acting outside the law by promoting abortion and she called on Peruvians to contact the Ministry of Health ([email protected]) to express their disapproval.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - Addressing a cheering crown gathered at the old soccer Stadium of Pacaembu in Sao Paulo, Pope Benedict XVI challenged Brazilian and Latin American young people not to "spoil your youth" but to listen and follow God's call in their lives.
In a long and energetic speech addressed from the dove-shaped dome on a sunny afternoon, the Pontiff commented on the Gospel passage of the rich young man (Mt 19:16-22) and said, "While flying over the land of Brazil yesterday evening, I was already anticipating our encounter here in the Stadium of Pacaembu, anxious to extend to all of you a warm Brazilian embrace and to share with you the sentiments which I carry in the depths of my heart, and which are very appropriately indicated to us in today’s Gospel."
Recalling his predecessor, who visited Brazil in three occasions, Benedict said: "In 1991, during his visit to Mato Grosso, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, of venerable memory, said that 'youth are the first protagonists of the third millennium … they are the ones who will be charged with the destiny of this new phase in human history.' Today, I feel moved to make the same observation regarding all of you."
Speaking about the character of Mathew's Gospel, the Pope said it “speaks of a young man who ran to see Jesus. His impatience merits special attention. In this young man I see all of you young people of Brazil and Latin America. You have ‘run’ here from various regions of this Continent for this meeting of ours. You want to listen to the words of Jesus himself—spoken through the voice of the Pope."
"You have a crucial question to put to him. It is the same question posed by the young man who ran to see Jesus: What good deed must I do, to have eternal life? I would like to take a deeper look at this question with you. It has to do with life. A life which—in all of you—is exuberant and beautiful. What are you to do with it? How can you live it to the full?" the Pontiff asked.
"The young man’s question,” the Pope explained, “raises the issue of life’s meaning. It can therefore be formulated in this way: what must I do so that my life has meaning? How must I live so as to reap the full fruits of life? Or again: what must I do so that my life is not wasted? Jesus alone can give us the answer, because he alone can guarantee us eternal life. He alone, therefore, can show us the meaning of this present life and give it fullness."
"To understand what is good,” he continued, “we need help, which the Church offers us on many occasions, especially through catechesis."
Pope Benedict continued to explain the parallel between the young man of the Gospel, who "kept the commandments," and asked: “And you, young people of Brazil and Latin America, have you already discovered what is good? Do you follow the Lord’s commandments? Have you discovered that this is the one true road to happiness?"
And he warned: "These years of your life are the years which will prepare you for your future. Your ‘tomorrow’ depends much on how you are living the ‘today’ of your youth. Stretching out in front of you, my dear young friends, is a life that all of us hope will be long; yet it is only one life, it is unique: do not let it pass it vain; do not squander it. Live it with enthusiasm and with joy, but most of all, with a sense of responsibility."
The Pontiff then delivered lively words of enthusiasm to which the young present responded with long cheers and applause: "You are the youth of the Church. I send you out, therefore, on the great mission of evangelizing young men and women who have gone astray in this world like sheep without a shepherd. Be apostles of youth. Invite them to walk with you, to have the same experience of faith, hope, and love; to encounter Jesus so that they may feel truly loved, accepted, able to realize their full potential."
"You can be the builders of a new society,” he added, “if you seek to put into practice a conduct inspired by universal moral values, but also a personal commitment to a vitally important human and spiritual formation."
The Pope encouraged the youth to "have great respect for the institution of the sacrament of Matrimony," because "there cannot be true domestic happiness unless, at the same time, there is fidelity between spouses."
But he also recalled that "some are called to a total and definitive self-giving, by consecrating themselves to God in the religious life." "I pray that in this moment of grace and profound communion in Christ, the Holy Spirit will awaken in the hearts of many young people an impassioned love, prompting them to follow and imitate Jesus Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, totally devoted to the glory of the Father and to love for their brothers and sisters," he added.
Finally, going back to the passage of the rich young man, the pope recalled that, "he withdrew to his riches, turning them to selfishness."
"My appeal to you today, young people present at this gathering, is this: do not waste your youth. Do not seek to escape from it. Live it intensely. Consecrate it to the high ideals of faith and human solidarity."
“You, young people, are not just the future of the Church and of humanity, as if we could somehow run away from the present. On the contrary: you are that young man now; you are that young man in the Church and in humanity today. You are his young face. The Church needs you, as young people, to manifest to the world the face of Jesus Christ, visible in the Christian community. Without this young face, the Church would appear disfigured," the Pope said in closing.
Read the full Message at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=155
Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 10, 2007 (CNA) - During the gathering with the Youth at the soccer stadium of Pacaembú, Pope Benedict briefly addressed the crown in English, inviting English-speaking participants to respond "generously" to God's call.
Few US flags were visible among the 35,000 youth when the Pope said in English: "My dear young friends, like the young man in the Gospel who asked Jesus: “What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?”, you are all seeking ways to respond generously to God’s call. I pray that you may listen to his saving words and that you may become his witnesses for the peoples of today. May God pour out upon all of you his blessings of peace and joy."
The Pope's words in English followed few words in French with similar message, thus giving to the event a significant international flavor.